More than 190 gritters will arrive with English fleets in the next two years.

Highways England, the government-run company responsible for England’s motorways and A-roads, has acquired a fleet of new gritters to combat any wild weather this winter.

As part of a £30 million replacement programme, more than 190 new gritters will arrive in the UK over the next two years, helping Highways England’s efforts to keep the roads open in the event of severe weather such as the ‘Beast from the East’ that struck the UK last year.

The new vehicles have been designed to be safer and more technologically advanced than their predecessors, with specialised salt-spreading equipment and a new, boxier shape.

The squared-off silhouette is the product of research from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), which was brought in after a spate of collisions between other vehicles and gritting trucks.

Highways England Gritters 2

As a result of the study, which found that solid shapes and big blocks of colour are the most visible characteristics on the road, Highways England asked gritter manufacturer Romaquip to build the vehicles in this way.

Romaquip has also fitted the vehicles with high-tech equipment that allows the organisation to plot the route, and use the data to spread salt automatically, taking into account the specific requirements thrown up by features such as bridges, landscape and other road features.

Highway maintenance truck spreading salt and sand on road

“We are excited to be working with Highways England, manufacturing a new generation of winter vehicles with numerous safety and technical advances,” said Romaquip’s technical director, Stephen McKeown. “It is a pleasure to work with an organisation that strives to develop and improve their service, actively partnering with us to achieve these goals.

“It is clear to see that the specification of these vehicles has been derived from consciously deciding to improve safety for both operators and other road users, and that the innovation to improve efficiency and functionality has also been thoroughly considered.

“Romaquip is committed to delivering the best quality machines to all of our customers, we welcome this improvement and look forward to working with Highways England over the years to come.”

Traffic on motorway during snow storm

Highways England’s winter fleet manager, Jane Wilkins, said the new gritters would make the roads safer for drivers and road workers.

“Safety is our top priority and we are always looking at ways we can improve our winter resilience,” she said. “Using the research carried out by TRL and our own data, we have looked carefully at the number of incidents involving gritters to see what more can be done to improve safety and the service we provide.

“The roll out of this £30 million programme started this year with 34 new vehicles in East Anglia. The remainder of the 157 vehicles will be replaced over the next two years.”

Motorway gantry sign reading caution freezing conditions